Introduced By Amber Hall
Happy New Year readers! It’s my one-year anniversary as your ‘Monday Moments’ page editor, and I wanted to start by saying how grateful I am to be able to curate these pages each month. It’s a joy to read through our submissions folder and I’m extremely proud to be part of a community that fosters and celebrates such diverse talent. Thank you to everyone who helps to make Write On! what it is.
The new year marks the start of our new theme, ‘Beginnings And Endings’. I’ve been thinking about how beginnings and endings can bring up all kinds of feelings for us, both good and bad – sometimes, good and bad. The idea seems especially pertinent in January, when the year ahead, full of unknowns, stretches out before us. There’s a sense of potential in the air as we bid farewell to the previous 12 months and gear ourselves up for what’s to come. But it can also be overwhelming, not least because there’s so much pressure to “make the year count.”
Initially, I was going to write about how beginnings and endings help us to grow but, actually, I’m not sure that’s quite right. Rather, I think these things bookend our growth; it’s the space in between that’s the most valuable. As the saying goes, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Our learning happens in the middle bit, between the starts and finishes.
We might dive headfirst into the new year with a lengthy list of goals for the months ahead, but it’s worth remembering that even the most stringent plans unfold incrementally, in the minutiae of the everyday. We might not even be aware of the changes we’re making, because we so rarely take stock of the present moment. During the festive period, I was struck by how many TV adverts there were for summer holidays, even on Christmas Day. We’re encouraged to always look ahead; to usher in endings and prepare for the next thing. But in doing this, we miss out on the here and now.
The pieces I’ve chosen for my page this month explore the idea that there’s merit in each moment, and creative inspiration to be found in the ordinariness of day-to-day life.
First, we have a poem by Jeffrey Allan Tullin. I love the musicality of this piece and the way the poet communicates both promise and pressure when faced with a blank page. After all, blank pages are full of possibilities. They’re a creative starting point for many but, as we see, making the first mark is often easier said than done.
’Tis Monday morning.
Shall we go, and open our portfolio?
The virgin paper, clean and white
Or cream perhaps, or ultrabrite?
Some vellum parchment? Coated? Bleached?
Lightly striated, linen sheets.
Caress the fibre, fingers stroll
On watermarks by dandy roll.
No gilded edge, our stationery
Longs for opus literary.
So…Rollerball? Or pencils (hard)
To ornament our waiting card?
My guilty treat – the fountain pen
Which captures words which I so yen
To lay down on the unspoiled grain Anticipations, joy and pain
That golden nib, the lightest touch
Imbibes each flourish with so much Expression that I hardly know
Where to begin the stygian flow.
Each feathered glyph, each word increase
A meagre part of masterpiece
Of visions seen, and fables heard
What have I written?
Not a word.
© Jeffrey Allan Tullin, 2023
Next, Ray Miles writes about the power of connecting with the present moment, giving us a picture-postcard image and a truly immersive reading experience. It serves as a reminder of the emotive power of memory, and the lasting inspiration it provides.
Cycling In The Medoc Region Of France
The warm wind blows upon my skin
Caressing, feeling good within.
The houses white with red tiled roof,
They almost seem to stand aloof,
As if to say “We feel the heat,
Our walls are warm, now we’re complete.
The road is stretched across the land,
Winding ‘tween the vineyards grand
Like long grey ribbon in a strand,
Laid out by some gigantic hand.
The rows of vines so neat and straight,
The branches laden with the weight
Of grapes, now formed and filling fast
With unique taste that’s unsurpassed.
The clouds are scudding cross the sky,
Not dark and gloomy, white and spry.
Behind them is an azure blue
And this presents a wondrous view.
The sounds are hushed, and all that’s heard
Is tyre on road, sometimes a bird.
I revel in this journey now,
My heart is free, I can allow
It access to a higher plane;
It does my very soul sustain.
At end of day, I will recall
The joy, the pleasure of it all,
My mind’s eye will replay each scene,
The sounds I heard, the roads I’ve been,
It’s all there in unconscious thought,
And so I smile, just as I ought.
© Ray Miles, 2023
Finally, our ‘Thoughtful Tuesdays’ page editor, Eithne Cullen, writes about the memories of her father and the shift work he did. I love the emotional pull of this piece, and as someone whose own father often worked nights (at a factory), the poem resonates with me.
My father worked the night shift
in a garage dark and bare;
he put the buses to bed there,
sat with them in diesel dank air.
He left the house after teatime,
the light was beginning to fade,
was never there for our bedtime,
to join in the games we played.
We watched him leaving in twilight,
a strong man’s shape – gunmetal grey,
in heavy, wool uniform coat,
we watched him walk away.
When the buses on the forecourt
heaved a sleepy, fan-belt sigh
he wheezed in emphysema
from fumes heavy, leaden, dry.
Working through the dense darkness,
he waited for morning’s faint show;
the first crew came to light the streets
with their double-deckered glow.
Coming home as the sun was rising,
the shadows grew under his feet,
grim shapes of hedges and houses
summoned him back to his sleep.
In the mornings, we woke to silence,
with tiptoeing quiet we’d creep,
ate in the dusky morning,
not daring to spoil daddy’s sleep.
© Eithne Cullen, 2017
Follow Eithne on X (Twitter): @eithne_cullen and Instagram: @eithnecullen57.
Eithne kindly shared this in response to a call-out I did for working class stories, as part of an upcoming event brought to you by The Working Class Studies Association, The Working Class Theatre Makers and The Working Class Collective.
Over two days, from 22 March – 23 March 2024, we will be sharing working class stories and celebrating working class culture in an international online event. We are currently looking for submissions from working class creatives, so please do get in touch via email at: email@example.com. The deadline for submissions is 29 January 2024. Stories may be shared live during the event, or in a pre-recorded format. I will be posting details on how to join on X: amber_marie_123 and Instagram: amber.marie.123, so keep your eyes peeled! You can also DM me directly on social media for more information.
Connect with the Working Class Studies Association on X: @wcstudies, and The Working Class Collective on X: @WorkingClassCol and Instagram: @workingclasscol.
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There’s a sense of potential in the air as we bid farewell to the previous 12 months and gear ourselves up for what’s to come.